Are You Sharing the Gospel?
What prohibits you from sharing the #gospel in your everyday life?
Philippians 1:13 “…so that it has become known throughout the whole imperial guard and to all the rest that my imprisonment is for Christ”
As stated yesterday, Paul was chained to a Roman guard 24 hours a day and the guards changed every four hours. His restriction was a complete one, and many of us might be tempted to think in terms of this restriction. However, Paul saw it as an opportunity to advance the gospel. Whereas we might think, “How limiting to his evangelism to be imprisoned like that,” Paul thought, “What an opportunity to share Christ with these men who are with me every minute of the day!” These guards would have been accustomed to hardened criminals, men who had little or no concern for any humanity, much less the guards themselves. However, Paul was different. He asked about their families, prayed for them, and shared the love of Christ with them at every turn. Word spread throughout the Praetorian Guard about the gospel and this very different prisoner, and many of them believed. (Philippians 4:22) We may often think that our vocations or our lives are devoid of ministerial opportunities because we are surrounded by unbelievers or because we aren’t in “ministry.” Paul would tell us that every area of our lives is to be seen as a place where Christ can be shared, and there are no such things as situations or people who prohibit our sharing the gospel.
Study/Meditation: With whom can you share the gospel this week? What has prohibited you from sharing with this person thus far? What might Paul tell you in terms of this seeming “prohibition”?
*Father, help me to see where I might share Your love and the good news of salvation through Jesus with someone in my life. Thank You for those opportunities. Amen.
Imputed #righteousness will always result in fruit in the #Christian life.
Philippians 1:11 “…filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.”
What a beautiful thing that Paul prayed for his fellow Christians in this way! He prayed that they abound in a love for one another that is true and right so that they would be able to discern all that is excellent, and then he prayed for the sanctification that will surely take place in their lives because of Jesus. We received the full measure of Christ’s righteousness upon justification, but the fruit that is displayed because of that imputed righteousness is not instantaneous but a process. Paul’s prayer, which should also be our desire, is that our lives are characterized by actions and deeds that exemplify our regenerated hearts, attributes which are only possible “through Jesus Christ.” These deeds will certainly be manifested in discerning and correct love for one another, and our lives will be filled continually with the fruit that can only come from Christ’s imputed righteousness. Finally, all of these things are ultimately given so that our lives glorify the one, true living God, displaying His majesty to the entire world. In this we praise Him, and it is for this that Paul prays for us.
Study/Meditation: How can you display fruits of righteousness in your life today that will bring glory and praise to God?
*Father, thank You for giving me, through You, the ability to love and bear fruit to Your glory. Help me to see the ways that I may do this today. Amen.
Loving in Excellence
How are we to #love one another in excellence?
Philippians 1:10 “(And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment), so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ.”
One of the biggest obstacles to purposeful Christian living is getting sidetracked onto things that aren’t relevant, or as Paul calls them, “excellent.” D. Martin Lloyd Jones said, ““The difficulty in life is to know on what we ought to concentrate. The whole art of life, I sometimes think, is the art of knowing what to leave out, what to ignore, what to put on one side. How prone we are to dissipate our energies and to waste our time by forgetting what is vital and giving ourselves to second and third rate issues” (The Life of Joy [Baker], p. 54). Paul’s prayer for his brothers and sisters in the Philippian church was that they would cultivate and express Christ-like love toward each other that is centered on knowledge and discernment so that they would not be diverted onto worldly things of little or no importance. It is our goal to apply a laser-like focus onto the things of God, recognizing the areas that both bring Him glory and show others His kingdom. When we do so, we live as “pure and blameless.” This does not mean that we live as perfect and faultless, but as with integrity and right thoughts. It is interesting that Paul’s focus for the Christian displaying these excellent and God-honoring qualities is in the way that we love one another. We do all of this with the understanding that Jesus is returning, a day when we will both be called home to Him and where we will be held to account for how our love abounded correctly for each other.
Study/Meditation: How does what Paul writes to the Philippian church in these verses much like what Jesus told His disciples in John 13:34-35? (http://www.esvbible.org/John+13/)
*Father, help me to see how I should love my brothers and sisters with excellence. Thank You for loving me this way. Amen.
Biblical #love is a balance between head and heart.
Philippians 1:9 “And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment.”
“Love” is often misused and misidentified within the Christian community. Some think that real love is devoid of intellect. They believe that we are to love by accepting the beliefs of anyone and everyone with no regard to the doctrinal authenticity of those beliefs. Love for these people is all heart and no head. Still others have gone to the opposite extreme, sacrificing kindness and patience in favor of strong doctrine. They feel love is intolerant to the extreme; it is all head and no heart. Paul realized that there is to be a fine balance between head and heart when it comes to biblical love, and it is in this kind of love that we are to “abound more and more.” Biblical love that is Christ exalting is in displaying kindness and self-sacrificial behavior toward others, but it is guided by “knowledge and all discernment.” Knowledge that drives true love does not anchor itself in culture but in God. It is spiritual knowledge that finds its source in God’s Word and in all Holy Spirit driven insight. True discernment comes only upon the foundation of Godly knowledge. One is discerning if he or she can correctly understand and identify truth as it is portrayed in the bible. Consequently, Paul’s prayer for the Philippian church, which should also be our prayer for ourselves and our brothers and sisters in Christ, is that we love one another with a Godly love, a love that is based on God’s Word and that in that knowledge can identify the differences between good and evil. This is love that combines both heart and head in order to truly glorify our Lord.
Study/Meditation: How can an incorrect balance between heart and head cause damage within a church?
*Father, help me to love correctly with my head and my heart. Thank You for giving me the Holy Spirit so that I might know these things. Amen.
Love One Another
Why must believers seek to #love one another?
Philippians 1:8 “For God is my witness, how I yearn for you all with the affection of Christ Jesus.”
There is no argument that just because we are brothers and sisters in Christ that loving each other can sometimes be difficult. Yet Paul uses the word “yearn” to describe how desperately he misses his Philippian church family. The Greek usage of this word was used to speak of one’s intestines or inward parts. In other words, Paul was saying that his longing to be with them came from the deepest part of him. Do we have that kind of longing to see our church family when we are away from them? The truth is that we should. Surely not everyone in the Philippian church was easy to get along with, so how could Paul yearn for their company so deeply? The key to this dilemma lies in the phrase “with the affection of Christ Jesus.” Jesus cared for all of His children, regardless of their personality quirks, and He did so with such ferocity that He quite literally died for them. We love each other through Christ. We look beyond our own sinful responses to the personalities and actions of our brothers and sisters toward the sin-erasing, wrath-removing love our Savior has for them. As we obey by seeking to eradicate our own judgmental, unloving reactions and instead move toward Christ’s love for others, the feelings of love will naturally, and in time, follow.
Study/Meditation: Think of at least one brother or sister in Christ that you have a difficult time loving. What steps can you take so that you can grow to love this person through the love Jesus already has for them?
*Father, forgive me for being unloving and judgmental of my brothers and sisters at times. Help me as I endeavor to love with Your love. Amen.
How We View Church
How do people sometimes treat going to #church like shopping for a new car?
Philippians 1:7 “It is right for me to feel this way about you all, because I hold you in my heart, for you are all partakers with me of grace, both in my imprisonment and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel.”
It is fully unfortunate that consumerism has permeated our idea of church today. The notion that church is the place where you go one or two times a week to have your needs met and then go home to your regular life would have been completely foreign to the Philippian church and to Paul. Often today we “church shop,” going from church to church looking for the “right” one that satisfies our personal criteria for church. Then we take our seats in the pew and receive for an hour and half at which point we go home to our lives. Nervous pastors fret when members leave to go down the street to another church that seems to offer full service programs, so they get busy revamping their own services to further meet the public needs. Church is not a place we go to be entertained or to have our needs met or to reflect mainstream society in whatever fashion is prevalent that day. Church is where we go in fellowship with other believers to worship and serve our risen Lord who bought us with His blood. Sometimes, as Paul indicated in his letter, that includes being persecuted. Paul tells the Philippian church that he remembers them with joy because they were partakers with him in both the grace they received from God but also in persecution. Let us not be infiltrated by the world’s idea of church, but instead be consumed with passion of like-minded believers who long for nothing else but communion based on Christ, a communion that shares in both the joy and the hardship.
Study/Meditation: How do you see church services in contemporary society often straying from what Paul would consider correct church focus? What attitudes in yourself need to be altered when you attend church so that you are there for the right reasons?
*Father, thank You for giving me my local church. Help me attend as a worshipper of You and of the Lord Jesus Christ, not for my own needs to be met. Forgive me when I attend selfishly. Amen.